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Science

Materials

Sweet technique inspired by bonbons yields better polymer shells

Inspired by a centuries-old technique used by chocolatiers to create chocolate shells for bonbons and other sweets, engineers have developed a new technique for making polymer films that are both uniform and predictable. According to the researchers, the new theory and method can not only allow confectioners to precisely control the thickness of bonbon casings, but can be more generally applied to create polymer shells for everything from drug capsules to rocket bodies.Read More

Materials

Highly elastic metallic glass brings bounce to hardened materials

Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) are artificial materials that boast superior strength and hardness to conventional metals due to a jumbled arrangement at the atomic level. By tweaking this recipe just a little, researchers have been able to produce a bouncy material with the highest degree of elasticity of any BMG, something they say could come to form everything from new drill bits and body armor to meteor-resistant satellite casings.Read More

Space

Hubble zooms in on galactic core

A new Hubble image has presented a stunning glimpse of the nuclear star cluster known to shroud Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) – the supermassive black hole that lurks at the heart of our galaxy. The spectacular 50 light-year wide image was captured in the infrared spectrum by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3.Read More

Medical

Portable system provides on-demand drug production

Manufacturing drugs is a complex process, often involving multiple facilities and taking weeks or months to arrive at the finished article. The lack of flexibility in the system led MIT researchers to develop a compact, all-in-one solution to allow for streamlined, speedy drug production. It can be adjusted to produce different medications, and isn't designed to replace existing manufacturing plants, but rather to complement them by providing, for example, an emergency backup solution should a facility have to be shut down.Read More

Space

Does a nearby star host an Earth-like planet?

The European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has made some stunning and insightful observations since its inauguration in 2013, including looks at galaxy formation in the early Universe and snaps of the Milky Way's largest known stellar womb. The telescope's latest effort is one of its most impressive yet, providing us with the best-ever look at a planet-forming disc. Read More

Environment

Hybrid system could clean up coal power

Even though 2015 saw the biggest decline in coal usage around the world on record according to Greenpeace, the use of the material is still thriving globally. In fact, according to the US Energy Information Administration, global coal consumption was at about eight billion short tons in 2012 (around 7.2 billion tonnes), the most recent year for which the agency provides statistics. So if coal isn't going away any time soon, what is there to do about the fuel source that is often blamed for pollution and global warming due to carbon emissions? Make it more efficient. And that's exactly what a new hybrid energy system out of MIT could do.Read More

Medical

Mouse gums turned into fully functioning skin

While growing biological components in the lab such as a thymus gland, sperm cells, eye tissue and cartilage are becoming more and more commonplace, thus far, creating fully functioning lab-grown skin has eluded scientists. Previous attempts have produced epithelial cells only, which comprise the outer layer of skin. Now, researchers at Japan's RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have created skin tissue complete with sebaceous glands as well as hair follicles. They started with mouse gums.Read More

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